A recent study done by the Center for Immigration Studies shows that during the last four years, 67 percent of the employment growth in the U.S. came from immigrants, rather than from native born Americans. The report came as a surprise to many, considering the weak economy and sluggish job growth that the U.S. has endured over the past four years.
Report co-author Steven A. Camarota says, “It’s extraordinary that most of the employment growth in the last four years has gone to the foreign-born, but what’s even more extraordinary is the issue has not even come up during a presidential election that is so focused on jobs.” Camarota is the center’s research director, and wrote the report along with demographer Karen Zeigler.
The numbers presented in the report are surprising. Since January of 2009, the number of immigrants (both legal and illegal) employed in the U.S. has risen 1.94 million, from 21.2 million to 23.2 million. Over the same time period, employment numbers for native born Americans has risen only half that much, or 938,000 to 119.9 million.
Much of this employment is coming from new immigrants to America. Between 2009 and 2012 there were 1.6 million immigrants to America.
The data in the Center for Immigration Studies report came from the joint U.S. Census Bureau/ U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Study. Based on the data, the Center for Immigration Studies is advising tighter governmental controls on immigration, but not all analysts agree that this would be a positive move.
As an example, Alex Nowrasteh, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, claims that the reason immigrants have been doing so well employment wise is that they naturally gravitate to areas of the economy that are doing well.
“Most of the areas of the U.S. economy that are hiring right now, like agriculture and high-tech industries, are those where immigrants have always been overly represented,” Mr. Nowrasteh said.
Additional reasons for the high rate of immigrant employment include their willingness to relocate. Natives typically have roots in the area where they live and as such are often hesitant to relocate, even if they live in an economically depressed area. Immigrants are also more apt to jump into the rebounding job market, in many cases it is the sole reason they have immigrated in the first place. Natives, on the other hand, have access to government benefits such as unemployment and welfare that can make them slower to search for work.